Blogs

Member Spotlight on Mississippi Arts Commission

For the months of November and December, GIA’s photo banner features work and artists supported by Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). Established in 1968, and funded annually by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, and private funds, MAC provides grants, technical assistance, consultation, and networking to artists, arts organizations, and institutions providing arts education throughout the state.

Lara Davis: What will you risk?

Lara Davis reports from day 2 of the 2017 GIA Conference:

Day 2. The scene: A passionate conversation with fellow conference attendees over breakfast. We are grateful for this time together to eat free food, consume coffee, hear from more local artist activists and cultural workers, and begin reflecting on some of the learning that defines our conference experiences over the last few days. We exchange information on sessions that have challenged us due to either an unwillingness to go deep enough, or their readiness to move us so profoundly that we’re already changed. The latter by far represents the collective experience of my table mate colleagues, and soon to be friends.

During the conversation, some key questions rise to the surface. We land on – what are you willing to risk for justice through your work and the philanthropic field? We stay here for some time. You see, we recognize that things like race and social positionality (i.e., where you rank in organizational hierarchy) have bearing on whether we act or remain inert. Formal power is always present in these spaces. So, are personal agency, and the potential for collective power.

In any case, this little question worm makes its way into my conscience like a red wiggler in a compost bin (which I assure you, is a good thing) and stays with me throughout the day’s journey.

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Lara Davis: Counter Narrative is the TRUTH

Conference blogger Lara Davis reports on day 1 of the 2017 GIA Conference.

The Detroit Idea Lab, Though…

If you didn’t already know, the Idea Lab is hands down my favorite thing about GIA Conferences. (If there’s any doubt, just see my previous conference blog posts.) No shade to the sessions, which undoubtedly convene a stellar array of peoples and perspectives, creating space for needed critical learning and dialog. The morning blessing that is the Idea Lab, though, situates us all in an artist-centered, artist-led ecology.

So, Detroit artists are woke AF. But, you already knew. Home grown brilliance all around. And, they ain’t playing. Their call to action is like no other – as unique as the city that was home to revolutionary activist Grace Lee Boggs, and that spawned Motown and Techno music. This morning’s plenary ushered in the likes of Taylor Renee Aldridge whose work as a writer and curator exists in “direct response to the misnomers that do not consider Black people.” Accompanied by a masked drummer, Bryce Detroit brought a Detroit-style Afrocentric essence to the stage, speaking on “actualizing justice” as anathema to the idea of funders who parachute resources into a community without context, relationship or an understanding of a people’s readiness in the face persistent injustice. Jenny Lee, Allied Media Conference’s fearless leader, organizes through a confluence of arts/culture/community. I literally get chills when I watch AMC’s promo video including artists and organizers that are POC, indigenous, Muslim, intergenerational, intersectional… the list goes so beautifully on. Swoon!

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Lara Davis: Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy

Conference blogger Lara Davis reports on the 2017 GIA Preconference.

“Nothing about us without us is for us.”

This proverb, popularized by South African disability and youth activists, served as the introductory frame for the daylong precon, Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy. These words were presented by facilitators as a challenge to the ways in which institutions may approach racial equity. (Think, colonialism. Think, the opposite of liberatory practices.) It set the tone outright for a conversation and exploration of racial inequity in art philanthropy that is at once structural and foundational to how a nation built upon racialized capitalism, i.e., genocide and slavery, operates.

So then, what is the real opportunity for racial equity within this context? The answer to that question is fundamentally rooted in both understanding the historic and persistent role arts philanthropy plays in maintaining racial inequity, and actively working to dismantle the racism rampant within and perpetrated by the field – by shifting power (money, resources, etc.) to ALAANA communities. A mouthful, I know. I’ll let these words by the wonderfully smart and funny Vu Le (Nonprofit AF) state it more succinctly.

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Jobs at GIA: Seeking Applicants for GIA’s New York Office

Grantmakers in the Arts is relocating its offices to New York City in January, 2018 and is seeking to hire several staff positions. Under the leadership of Eddie Torres, president & CEO, GIA will begin reviewing applications on November 17 and all positions will remain open until filled. View all open positions.

New from the GIA Reader: Detroit Imagines Itself

In “Detroit Imagines Itself: Art of the Ex-industrial,” Detroit-based writer Sarah Rose Sharp offers a thoughtful overview of the history, strengths, and challenges of the city’s vibrant arts community.

Wallace Foundation Begins Publishing Market Research to Help Improve Performing Arts Audiences

The Wallace Foundation is publishing a series of market research reports to support efforts to improve attendance and audience engagement at arts institutions around the country. As reported by Nonprofit Quarterly:

In response to a declining audience base for many major art forms, the Wallace Foundation’s $52 million [Building Audiences for Sustainability] initiative looked at Ballet Austin. . . . Over time, BAS will study a total of 25 performing arts organizations. The goal is to help these individual arts organizations as well as to develop insights for the arts field in general.
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Receives 10% Budget Boost

From MiBiz:

Funding for arts and culture in Michigan received a $1 million bump for 2018.

Bringing the total state budget allocation for arts and cultural programs up to $10.7 million signals a recognition by state lawmakers of the importance of events and programming such as music festivals and art centers — and of the arts in schools across Michigan, according to industry sources.

“The state legislature and Gov. Snyder’s administration have been very good to us,” said John Bracey, executive director of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA). “In 2010, we were only granted $1.7 million and we were on the brink of elimination. From that time, we’ve gotten a few increases here and there and leveled out at that $9.7 million level.”

Jerome and Camargo Foundations Announce Next Phase of Working Relationship

From Jerome Foundation:

In 2013, the Foundations had entered a close working partnership as Camargo re-staffed and revitalized its programs, with Jerome Foundation Board and staff providing guidance and leadership in this transitional period. The success of this alliance has been remarkable. A new staff of dedicated and committed individuals, headed by Julie Chénot (who joined the Foundation to head programs in 2014), has been engaged.

With this re-emergence of Camargo as a vital residency center for artists, scholars, and thinkers, Camargo is now ready to embark on a new path. In recognition of the successes achieved, Camargo Program Director Julie Chénot has been promoted to the role of Executive Director of the Camargo Foundation.

Lane Harwell on How Funders Can Better Support Artists with Disabilities

In a recent blog post on Philanthropy News Digest, Dance/NYC Executive Director Lane Harwell writes about the importance of supporting artists with disabilities:

The moment is rife with opportunity. On the one hand, there are opportunities for more expansive disability-specific funds. Indeed, a new generation of disability arts organizations and fiscally sponsored projects is primed for capacity-building investments, and there are critical gaps in funding for disabled artists along the artistic development continuum, from public school classrooms to professional studios and stages.

At the same time, it is incumbent on philanthropy to develop intersectional strategies that consider disability within and across arts funding portfolios rather than in isolation.